What is this voice we are working on?

What is this voice we are working on?

The Sing 15 practice is about expanding the capacities of our voice. But what do we mean when we say voice? Here are some perspectives:

• A physical phenomenon, the sounds produced when our vocal folds vibrate the air passing through the cavities between those vocal folds to our mouths.
• Something we are born with, that magic combination of our unique physical shapes and sizes and our individuality from day zero of our lives.
• Something that is conditioned by our experiences, our parents and teachers, our culture and interactions with people from other cultures.
• Something that is internal and only heard by each of us.
• Something connected to the very essence of who we are.
• Something whose capacity we can become conscious of and learn to expand

For the purposes of this practice, when we talk about voice, we are talking about this whole mixture of elements. When you hear a person speak for the first time, embedded in his or her words, tone, physical posture, pitch, body language, emotional state is a road map of a unique life, far too complex for anybody to draw.

All of these aspects make up their “voice.”

With such complexity, if we want to become freer and more adept in using our voices in the world, where do we start? We could enter through any of the doorways above. For example, we could learn about the technical structure of the voice and work on using that structure more efficiently and more intentionally. Or we could go to therapy and “unpack” all the conditioning influences that have affected our voices.

The Sing 15 approach is an experiential one, to repeatedly give our whole selves the experience of greater vocal capacity, to begin embedding in our bodies, minds, spirits, emotional lives, the experience of greater freedom. In the same way that practicing a new tennis swing over and over teaches our bodies a “new normal,” when we do this regularly, a new normal starts to emerge in the way we use our voices, whether it be in a jazz improvisation or a company meeting. Our “muscle memory” is renewed, giving us the foundation for greater freedom and mastery.

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